A new global circularity metric unveiled in Davos, Switzerland, has revealed an urgent need to use the world’s resources more efficiently and create policies and economic infrastructure that encourages the recycling and reuse of natural resources.
The Circle Economy’s first ‘Circularity Gap’ report shows that more than 90% of the raw materials used globally are not being cycled back into the economy, placing “a massive strain” on the globe’s natural resources and climate that needs to be urgently relieved.
“Today’s take-make-waste economic model is not fit for purpose. Embedded in this tradition of the linear economy lies a toxic cocktail of negative consequences, ranging from social inequality, to depletion of natural resources, environmental pollution and worsening of the risks and effects of climate change,” said Circle Economy CEO and report co-author Harald Friedl.
While the report highlighted how main resource groups satisfy key societal needs, such as housing, mobility and nutrition, it also highlighted the “leaks in the system” with an overview of what happens to resources after use in the economy.
A fully circular economy would reduce global natural resource use by 28% and cut greenhouse-gas emissions by 72%, the report shows, indicating that this could significantly support the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Climate Agreement.
The main output of the first report unpacked the possibility of measuring yearly progress to bridge the gap between what was used and what was cycled.
“Being able to track and target performance through the Global Circularity Metric will help us engage in uniform goal-setting and guide future action in the most impactful way,” Friedl noted.
Circle Economy identified four steps to bridge the circularity gap through leadership and action, including building a global coalition for action; developing a global target and action agenda; translating global targets to local action roadmaps; and improving the understanding of circular systems.
“The circular economy is a positive, dynamic and interconnected solutions-based framework: it builds on key human qualities, such as creativity, collaboration and entrepreneurship; and is a roadmap towards achieving the SDGs and a powerful tool in the fight against human-made climate change,” the report noted.
“We call upon businesses and governments to take leadership to develop an action agenda and contribute to the global targets set in the SDGs and the Paris Agreement,” Friedl concluded.